Petersburg to Norlina route : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

When was the SAL Petersburg to Norlina route abandoned and removed and with CSX's absorption of NYC (Conrail) will the increase of traffic cause them to reopen it? Also what about the line between Weldon and Norlina?

-- Andrew Callo (, July 20, 1998


The story around Norlina at the time was that the bridge over Lake Gaston was the source of the problem--it was deteriorating rapidly and would have to be be rebuilt. Management decided it was cheaper to abandon the line than to rebuild the bridge. This also shifted freight and passenger traffic to the less-hilly former ACL route, allowing them to pull longer trains more economically.

The "Steel Bridge" on US1 also had to be rebuilt, causing the highway to be closed for at least a year. These bridges were built before the construction of Lake Gaston, and were designed to span a river, not a lake.

-- Jim Hecht (JimHecht @, February 09, 2000.

I discovered one other minor fly in the re-open the SAL ointment. In McKenney VA there is a fairly large (75 x 200 feet?) Butler style building sitting dead athwart the old right-of-way. I suppose that VADOT could buy the building outright or condemn it via eminent domain, but it's there now.

-- Craig Zeni (, September 26, 1998.

The old right of way is quickly being overtaken by vegetation, but could be reclaimed again as a rail route if everything fell into place. I believe that an optic cable is buried along the R of W and that keeps the possibility viable. After so long without trains thru the area, I'm sure some residents would put up a howl if the measure to go forward with the Charlotte-Washington project gets approval. The bridge over Lake Gaston would have to be brought back up to specs again. No doubt, some CSX folks have kicked themselves for hastingly pulling up these tracks....leaving only the mostly single track ACL route to bear increasing East Coast north-south traffic.

-- Greg Hodges (, August 20, 1998.

As a bit more info to this question, the Virginian flew over the SAL at Alberta VA, with both crossing US 1 nearby. VA Dept of Trans has removed and filled in the US 1 bridges over the Virginian, but the SAL bridges remain intact...

-- Craig Zeni (, August 16, 1998.

Doug is indeed right that there are plans for the old S-line. I work for NCDOT, and with Virginia DOT and FRA, the state is looking at putting a high speed passenger train back on that run. The full route from Washington to Charlotte is planned to be studied under one environmental document. I hope this helps.

-- Marc L. Hamel (, July 22, 1998.

I ran the last passenger train (No.81) over the Norlina Sub on October 26, 1986. The following morning (on No. 82) we departed Raleigh at the former Southern station and operated via the NS to Selma. The Norlina Sub was officially abandoned in early 1987, but with the exception of the work trains that dismanteld it from Norlina, NC to Collier, VA, it was never again used for through trains. Later in 1987, the signals and most sidings from Raleigh to Norlina were removed and trains now operate by DTC block authority. I have been told that there is a contract awaiting signatures for the purchase of the S-line by the State of NC, with commuter and highspeed rail envisioned. The Norlina-Weldon line? Who knows.

-- Doug Riddell (, July 21, 1998.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ